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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  February 14, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PST

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this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm rosemary church in atlanta. >> i'm michael holmes in los angeles. thanks for your company. we're following the breaking news this hour, the resignation of national security adviser michael flynn. he stepped down on monday after allegations that he inappropriately discussed u.s. sanctions on moscow with russia's ambassador. and just monday, cnn learning
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the justice department, warned the white house in january that flynn might be open for blackmail by russia. in his resignation letter, flynn said, quote, unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, ip inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others, with incomplete information regarding my phone calls to the russian ambassador. i have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology. i spoke with jim acosta. jim, i suppose his position had been untenable or growing that way. wasn't this sort of accusation of potential blackmail that was the turning point? or was it that he misled mike pence, the vice president? >> i think that revelation that the justice department had
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warned the trump administration a month ago, michael. that was certainly a turning point in all of this. i think also, this feeling inside the white house, that it just was unacceptable after the national security adviser, michael flynn, the former national security adviser, had misled intentionally or unintentionally, the vice president, mike pence, about whether he had contacts with the russian ambassador, that he discussed the russian sanctions that were handed down by the administration. he did not have the conversations about the sanctions. he did have the conversation. the big turning point earlier today, when kellyanne conway, the counselor to the president said, the president had full confidence in michael flynn. and within an hour of that, the press secretary, sean spicer, brought reporters into his office, and said, no, that was
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not the case. the president was evaluating the situation. evaluating michael flynn's future. i heard later in the evening, just a few hours ago, that really, his status was a, quote, gray area. michael, as you know, from observing what happens in washington, once a top administration official gets to that point, when the president cannot express he has full confidence in that individual, it's pretty difficult to walk in a back. and for that person to once again have the confidence of the president. and so, it did become an untenable situation. they're starting to talk about the possible replacement for michael flynn, keith kellogg, the retired general. he had been working in the national security council office. he will be the acting national security adviser. but david petraeus, the retired general, is the front-runner for the job. he was involved in the obama administration. was a top official in the obama administration but resigned from that position because he shared classified secrets with his mistress. and another retired admiral, bob
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harward is under consideration for the title of national security adviser. it will probably take several days. but what we're hearing from the trump white house this evening is that the president has moved on from all of this. that general flynn did not get fired. he resigned, according to senior he resipped, according to senior administration officials. president trump tried to hang in there as long as he could, we're told. but eventually, what you saw tonight, simply became, as you said, an untenable situation. >> in thanks to jim acosta there. we spoke about flynn's resignation and the possible contenders to replace him, including david petraeus. >> one source says general petraeus is going to go to the white house tomorrow, and that he is, quote, making a run for
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the job. but this source also indicates that petraeus has, what the source calls, a lot of baggage. we know what that is. and we've spoken about it this evening, which he shared class if ied information with his mistress. and we talked about the people in running for the job. obviously, petraeus is in the running for the job. general kellogg is also solid, i'm told, with k.t. mcfarland, who is the number one. i think this took so long, because general flynn was hanging out there for so long. i think it took long every because of the president himself. and jim acosta and i have been talking about tonight, because the president doesn't like to fire people. and in the end, i was told, there was a flood of information
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that finally made it clear in a flynn had to resign. what that was remains unclear. was it related to the stories that broke tonight "the post" and "the new york times"? was it related to transport transcriptions of his conversations with the russians? or was it related to the fact that in his conversations with the vice president, he did not tell him what actually occurred, in his conversations with the russians? and whether that was an oversight or whether he just didn't tell the truth about it, we really haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet. but in the end, i think the president and the staff finally decided that general flynn had to go. so, he resigned. >> let's head to moscow now and cnn's senior correspondent,
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matthew chance, joins us live. let's start with reaction there, matthew, from russia. what's being said about this? >> reporter: let's start with it's an embarrassment for the kremlin. they have denying that any conversations have taken place between michael flynn and sergyi kisly kislyak. that, now, appears to have been untrue. and these conversations, it seems, did take place, which is why michael flynn would have resigned. i spoke to the kremlin about this morning. the kremlin spokesman, demet tri peskov saying he is not going to talk at the resignation. that's a matter for the united states. when i asked if he acknowledges that sanctions were discussed
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between him and the russian ambassador, he said, all of the statements earlier, all of which, were categorical rejections that those conversations take place. it's been other reactions, as well. notably from a senior russian lawmaker who tweeted earlier, this is the earliest resignation of a national security aide in history. he went on to say, that the target is not flynn, but the relationship with russia. and that's, i think, cuts to the real concern here in russia. that the relationship that donald trump has or the sympathy that donald trump has with russia and the sympathies those around him have with russia, have become a political liability for him. his enemies, politically in the democratic party, particularly in the republican party, as well, have made it clear they're going to exploit those sympathies, to their benefit and to discredit the trump administration. and that worries the russians for a couple of reasons.
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they're concerned that donald trump will see the writing on the wall when it comes to his administration. and for the sake of political survival, do a political u-turn, and instead of being the kremlin's candidate, he will become anti-russian, adopt anti-russian policies. opportunistically. and that's something i think that russian officials are concerned about now. what will it lead to when it comes to the trump administration's stance towards russia? >> matthew chance joining us live from moscow. just after 11:00 in the morning. many thanks. jacob pair guy lass joins us now, from london. the assistant head of america's program at chattham house. when you think about it, for
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general flynn, do you think this is it? or is it far from over? there's other investigations going on into the links between russia and the u.s. election. and one imagines democrats want to make some hay out of all of this. >> the democrats don't have majority or the house or the senate. and to some extent, the republicans are going to continue to compartmentalize this story for flynn and move on with their agenda. in the absence of other revelations, flynn will probably be fine for the next couple of years. it's possible that the democrats, if they take the house back in 2018, take the house and senate, or it's more likely they want to move on at that stage. >> what about the investigation that is going to happen into russia's involvement or otherwise, in the election?
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is there a chance he could be called to that? >> yes. there's a chance. and especially with the latest revelations that the news there are transcripts of these calls. it's likely he will be called. whether that's a -- whether the transcripts of those conversations are released? it's possible those are private conversations between himself and the senate investigators, and those will never make it in the public domain. >> one of the key questions, is who knew what and when did they know it? it's interesting that donald trump on air force one last friday, said he didn't know about these allegations. yet, the department of justice is saying they told the trump administration last month about the blackmail concerns and the content of the phone calls. it didn't really add up? >> no. that's the problem that this
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story will end with flynn's resignation. the questions, the broader story of all this, the questions of potential links between the trump administration and russia, the question of why the trump administration is willing to take a much different line on russia than other republicans, has ebbed and flowed. until flynn's resignation, it seemed to be a low-ranking story, given everything else that's going on. this brings it back up to the top of the headlines, to refocus attention on it. >> the concern, that donald trump will criticize even allies, but isn't said a word against russia. >> yes, absolutely. the degree to which trump has been willing to propose a friendlier, more open, more level relationship with russia has been striking. it's one of the ways he was most
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distance, not only the general democratic opponent, but all of the republican opponents in the primary election. this will draw attention back to that. >> the national securitied a vuzer has to be one of the key appointments a president can make. it is a vital job. how vital is it, now, who the replacement is? >> it's very, very important. especially because large parts of the state and defense department are not staffed up. you have very important coordinating jobs that are done by acting staff or are just absent of the moment. the national security council is filling a lot of fwaps, making sure that the flow of information from the agencies to the president, is uninterrupted. that national security decisionmaking can provide. he needs somebody in there that is a capable coordinator. not necessarily at the center of the news, but an effective manager from the intelligence community, from the defense
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department, from the state department, and from the other agencies, into the white house, with the making of effective policy. jacob parakilas, thanks so much. criminal defense attorney and prosecutor, troy slaten. the big legal question here, whether makele flynn committed any crime when he discussed u.s. sanctions with russia's ambassador in washington before the trump administration took office. what's your assessment of that? >> there's a 1799 law called the logan act. it provides that unless you are a member of the u.s. government, and authorized to do so, that you can't negotiate with any foreign countries on behalf of the united states. the allegation here being that retired general flynn, as he was
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in the transition, was having unauthorized negotiations with the russian ambassador kislyak. no one has been prosecuted under that statue, but that's not saying he can't be. it is a felony. >> given the logan act is an old, obscure statute, what are the likely legal consequences in reality for michael flynn here? >> i think it's unlikely he will be prosecuted under that statute. he has retired. the bigger issue in question for me is, how is it that general flynn didn't know that his conversation with the russian ambassador was having listened to by u.s. intelligence officials?
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the director of national intelligence, and acting attorney general, yates, and all were in agreement this information needed to go to the incoming trump administration. and it was fbi director comey that said that he didn't want that information transmitted because it would affect his investigation. and the fbi only investigates criminal acts. >> interesting. of course, the next legal question that has to be asked is, who else likely knew about the discussions on sanctions? and when did they know about them? given the justice department warned the trump administration a month ago, flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail as a result of his communication with the russian ambassador? how does that get resolved?
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and how big might this be? >> that's a very good question. if the trump administration knew the national security adviser, who is the person who is responsible for coordinating all the intelligence, from all of the intelligence agencies from the vast intelligence infrastructure we have in this country, it would appear to me, that that would be striking to investigators. i imagine that general flynn will be called to testify on the record and off the record, with congressional investigators. and they, most definitely, have a transcript of his entire conversation with the russian ambassador. >> yes. his resignation doesn't signal the end of this. troy slaten, thanks so much for joining us and bringing us up to date on legal matters.
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appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. president trump now under scrutiny for how he has handled a big foreign policy test. why he's being criticized for his response to north korea's latest missile launch. we'll have a live report. of bad breath germs.erin% this is 100% useful for a 100% fresh mouth. just ask listerine® users. the very people we studied in the study of bold. people who are statistically more likely to stand up to a bully. do a yoga handstand. and be in a magician's act. listerine® kills 99% of bad breath germs so you can feel 100% in life. bring out the bold™. also try listerine® pocketpaks for fresh breath on the go.
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of their kind endorsed by aarp. remember - these plans let you apply all year round. so call today. because now's the perfect time to learn more. go long. welcome back, everyone. returning to our top story. the u.s. national security adviser has resigned over a
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controversy over his russian contacts. reports say the justice department warned the white house that michael flynn was vulnerable to russian blackmail over his communications with the russian ambassador to the u.s. two democratic leaders are calling for a classified briefing on the situation. flynn was one of president trump's closest advisers. these photos show president trump moments after he learned about north korea's latest missile launch. mr. trump is being criticized for discussing sensitive information, surrounded by guests at his florida resort. he was there with the japanese prime minister, shinzo abe. the photos show aides using cell phone flashlights to read documents. the white house says the leaders did not discuss classified conversation at their dinner table. mr. trump has not clarified how he will deal with his first foreign policy crisis.
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u.s. officials believe the north has improved its missile technology, allowing less time to refuel. that makes it harder to connect a possible launch. meanwhile, a familiar scene in the security council. more condemnations that have done little to hinter kim john un. >> just how much has north korea made in the technology and how significant is it? >> it appears to be strategically significant, michael. when the missile test was made public on sunday morning here local time, we were told it was an intermediate range ballistic missile. and all of us shrugged our shoulders. it was something we had seen before. there were 24 different missile tests with different ranges throughout the year in 2016.
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we heard from officials just what this particular missile is made up of. this is a version of the kn-11, a submarine ballistic missile tested last year. it's about how this missile is propelled up into the sky. this is with a solid fuel. and what that does is it appears this missile to be more mobile. you saw in the video there, the first time we've seen video of this kind of a missile, from north korea. you saw the missile was launched from the back of a truck, using a hydraulic system. you can easily hide this missile. when you choose to deploy it, you can drive it out, find a spot and launch it into the sky. the solid fuel comes into play because you don't have to fuel it with liquid fuel. that takes time. if you have a rocket that has lick quit file, that can take days. and that allows other countries to figure out what's going on.
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the north koreans appear to have taken a step further. the next step is figure out how to develop a missile that can go further. a long-range missile. an intercontinental missile that could hit a target like the continental united states. >> you mentioned next steps. let's talk about next steps for the rest of the world. u.n. security council denouncing again. but what would be another step for the outside world to react. >> the first thing everyone thinking of is sanctions, michael. that could be a step forward. but consider the two times in 2016, that the u.n. security council actually moved forward with sanctions. that would be after the first nuclear test in 2016 in january. and then, the second time, north korea tested a nuclear device. that was in august. those were the two times when sanctions were brought forward, when all five members that have veto power agreed on new
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sanctions. you haven't seen that happen when there's just been a missile test. the odds of sanctions being levied because of this one particular test, probably pretty small. you never know what can happen. and it will be a good test to see how much the trump administration will push for sanctions in this first real instance it has to deal with the north korean situations. >> indeed. es sfspecially after coming in saying they were going to get tough on north korea. >> we'll take a short break here. still to come, much more on michael flynn's resignation as u.s. national security adviser. "the washington post" who helped break the story that the justice department was worried russia might blackmail flynn talks to cnn. where's frank? it's league night! 'saved money on motorcycle insurance with geico! goin' up the country. bowl without me. frank.'
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this is cnn breaking news. >> a warm welcome back to our viewers in the united states and all around the world. i'm rosemary church at cnn headquarters in atlanta. >> i'm michael holmes in los
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angeles, where it is 12:30 a.m. we're following breaking news. u.s. president donald trump looking for a new national security adviser, a key post in an administration. michael flynn resigning late monday after growing controversy, over his contacts with russia. flynn says he inadvertently briefed mike pence and others with what he called incomplete information about his conversations. the russia's u.s. ambassador. flynn inappropriately discussed u.s. sanctions in moscow. and learning that the justice tpt had warned the white house in general about the calls saying that flynn might be vulnerable to blackmail by russia. >> "the washington post" first broke the news about the sanctions being discussed and the justice department's concern that flynn could be blackmailed. we want to play you part of an interview with one of the paper's reporters who helped
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break the story. he mentioned the high-profile figures. michael flynn, the russian ambassador to the u.s., sergey kisly kislyak. mike mention, sean spicer. reince prebus, sally yates, john bren b, and james clapper and fbi director, james comey. adam enders talked with cnn's anderson cooper. >> this came to a head on the obama administration, the last full day obama was in office. there was a depate between the intelligence community, the justice department and the fbi, you had sally yates and the
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deputy attorney general, wanted to go to the trump white house after the inauguration and let them know that the way pence, the vice president-elect and other administration officials in the incoming administration were mischaracterizing based on a conversation they mad with flynn, his conversation with kislyak, the russian ambassador. com comey, the fbi director, initially, opposed going to the trump white house, to let them know this conversation. after trump comes to office, sally yates, acting attorney general, makes the case again and convinces comey some time after the 23rd of january, and before the 31st, that this information needed to be passed on. so, they shared it with the
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white house. >> in terms of the intersects of conversations of flynn with the russian ambassador, those were looked at, according to your article, after intelligence officials that russia didn't retaliate for actions against russia, correct? >> correct. fbi has a wiretap on the russian ambassador and other diplomats. and they correct that all the time. after putin didn't respond, as many officials expected, intel analysts were crashing their heads, trying to understand what happened. why didn't putin do what was expected? when they looked through the intelligence, they saw the communications between kislyak and flynn. when sally yates, the deputy attorney general, when she saw them she was alarmed. she felt like flynn had crossed the line, in particular, the logan act, which is an obscure
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statu statute, which would bar a u.s. person, like flynn, before that person becomes part of the government, to lobby another person in government. but the fbi had an ongoing investigation looking at trump associates and their ties to russia. it wasn't an issue, really, until you had the mischaracterizations publicly. the idea is that the russians knew what flynn and kislyak had spoken about. they could tell by the way pence, sean spicer and the chief of staff, that they were mischaracteriziing based on wha flynn was telling them, what was discussed in those calls. >> well, attorney, ron bermier joins us from santa maria, california. thank you so much for being with us.
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>> thanks for having me. >> our guest earlier this hour, suggested that general michael flynn may have violated an old statute. we heard it mentioned just then, the logan act, if he discussed the lifting of u.s. sanctions with the ambassador to the u.s., before president trump took office. what is your response to that? was there any crime committed here at all, do you think? >> no. the logan act was passed in 1799. in over 200 years, nobody has ever been prosecuted for it. if anybody looked at the logan act, they would realize it's probably unconstitutional. we had a number of people who weren't elected that take to foreign diplomats. president obama, when he was a candidate, spoke to afghanistan leaders, palestinian leaders, flew to germany. spoke to merkel. all these things he was doing as not even president-elect, as candidate for the office.
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there's no way he could be go after someone under the statute. nobody has bothered to prosecute in 200 years. only the most partisan of advocates, would suggest that some statute has been violated. this would be a case of first impression, on a law that appears to be unconstitutional on its face. i don't see it happening. >> you worked in the justice department some years ago. you know how this all works. what was your reaction when you heard that the justice department actually warned the trump administration last month, that general michael flein misled the administration, regarding his contact with russia's ambassador to the u.s. and was vulnerable to blackmail by russia? should something more have been done sooner, do you think? >> i have two things when i heard that story. one is that, mr. flynn was a
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private citizen. and he had a conversation with a russian ambassador. and he was recorded. in the united states, you can't wiretap a private citizen. additionally, it appears that somebody in the white house or in the justice, is leaking classified information to the press. that's also a crime. the more troubling thing for the trump administration is that mr. flynn misled the vice president and administration officials. he had to go. the blackmail aspect of it sounds like something you would see in the movies. or read in the comics. eventually, the truth comes out. and flynn had to go. and he did. >> all right. ran bamieh, thank you for
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joining us. >> thank you. the brush government had rejected an online petition to cancel the donald trump visit. the statement from the foreign and commonwealth office posted online, says the government recognizes the strong views expressed by the many signatures of this petition, but does not support this petition. more than 1.8 million people have signed the petition, easily crossing the 100,000 signature-threshold required for it to be debated in parliament. that debate is scheduled for february 20th. no dates have been set yet for a trump visit. asylum-seekers search for refuge in canada after being unable to find it in the u.s. the only thing standing in their way, bitter freezing temperatures. we'll have a report when we come back.
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welcome back, everyone. recapping the top story for you. michael flynn resigning as the
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u.s. national security adviser. this coming after reports that the justice department warned he could be vulnerable to blackmail over communications he had with the russian ambassador. reports also said flynn discussed u.s. sanctions with the ambassador, after russia allegedly interfered with the presidential election. and while barack obama was still president. canadian prime minister justin trudeau has a different view on the president's travel ban. the leaders agreed to strengthen trade between their countries. but mr. trump took the opportunity to defend his travel ban saying the u.s. cannot let the wrong people in. here's the canadian leader's response. >> the last thing canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on
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how they choose to govern themselv themselves. >> after president trump announced his travel ban, a wave of refugees began fleeing the u.s. and heading to canada. but they're facing incredible dangers in order to do. sara sidner here with that. >> reporter: in the middle of the night, this is when refugees are trying to escape the u.s. behind me is minnesota. to the left is north dakota. and this is emerson, canada. it's pretty easy to cross here. there's not much to stop you, except for the snow. men, women and children, picked up in the middle of the night, in the dead of winter looking for refuge. this is the latest wave of asylum sneakers who have snuck across the united states board, not trying to get into the u.s., but trying to get out. destination, canada. these four men were among them. what was it like trying to get here?
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>> i can't believe speaking to you that i'm alive. i was almost dead to be freezing. >> it was very difficult. >> reporter: at one point, they thought they were going to freeze to death. this is an easy entry way to canada, because there is a decommissioned border crossing. people were walking in knee-deep snow in sub zero temperatures for hours. and they did it all in the dead of winter, in a panic, for one reason. >> donald trump was elected, so, i fear i will not have an opportunity to be granted and to live as an asylum or refugee in the united states. donald trump hates the refugee. >> they don't want immigrants, especially from my country, somalia, they ban. >> reporter: how many of you left the united states because of donald trump's executive order? all of you.
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all of them stumbling into emerson, canada. it started with a trickle. and now, it's increased to like a flood stage. >> reporter: we witnessed 21 people, include an entire family, come into emerson in just 24 hours. the mayor of emerson says he feels for the asylum seekers. but he's worried about the safety of his town. are you worried about terrorism? are you worried about the people coming across the border? >> that's always in the back of your mind. when you're getting these people coming across, for one thing, they're breaking the law when they jump the border. so, right away, they're criminals. >> reporter: not everyone we saw was from the list of banned countries. but they all had their reasons for making the journey. he is from ghana. >> right now, i'm wanted in my country. >> reporter: wanted, he says, for the crime of being gay.
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what would they do if they caught you? >> i would be -- if they didn't kill me, i would go to jail. >> tell me how this happened to you. how did you lose your fingers? they had never heard of frostbite until all of their fingers had to be amputated, save one thumb. when asked if it was worth it, they said they have no choice. >> we feel like we are home. and the canadian people, open their hearts for us. >> reporter: even though two men from ghana, who lost their fingers except for one thumb, they have no guarantee they will be given refugee status here in canada. but more people keep coming and hoping. sara sidner, cnn, emerson, canada. immigration advocates and
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democrats representing the affected areas are questioning a series of raids around the country. the department of homeland security said nearly 700 people were arrested in the operation in 5 u.s. cities. the agency says the raids targeted convicted criminals, gang members and people who reentered the country after being deported. but advocates say the executive order vastly expanded the raids to include any undocumented immigrant in the u.s., not just serious criminals. we'll take a short break. still to come, crews in northern california are scrambling to prevent water from spilling uncontrollably at the tallest dam site. the latest on the situation the latest on the situation there. ly tylenol® rapid releases have laser drilled holes. they release medicine fast, for fast pain relief.
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welcome back. urgent efforts are under way nor oroville dam to repair the damaged spillways that have forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate as a precaution. the area suffered years of trout. but heavy rainfall and snowfall that is melting suddenly pushed the dam past its limit.
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engineers cautiously optimistic they can contain the flooding risk. but more rain is on the way. joining me now in the studio, pedram javaherjavaheri. >> it's far from over. people have been evacuated. they're not allowed back. there's a lot more rain coming and more snow potentially. the concern is, if the emergency spillway were to fail, it's the same thing as if the dam were to fail in its entirety. the number one loss of life in california state history was the 1906 san francisco quake. numb in per two, was the st. francis dam failure. it has the chance to be disastrous. officials are not messing around with it. you see perspective. the make, the tallest lake -- the tallest dam in the united states, at 770 feet. but the second-largest
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reservoir, as well. there's the damage occurring there to the left of the screen. it's a earthen dam. if that fails, it's a disaster scenario. and the projections are such, if they have done the calculations, within one hour, 10 feet to 100 feet of water the oroville, 100 photoof water. seven hours later,en the-feet-high waters, would reach marriesville or yuba city. why the people in the communities have been evacuated. and storms come in one after another. wednesday into thursday. minimal rainfall accumulations with this one. the second one slated to come in friday into sunday. heavy rainfall, and high-elevation snowfall. an atmospheric river pattern.
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pineapple express, so, the moisture comes out of the hawaiian islands. that's why they do what they can to reduce the water levels as quickly as possible. >> environmentalists did warn about this, didn't they? >> absolutely. thanks for joining us. i'm rosemary church. i'll be back next hour. >> i'm michael holmes in los angeles. i will not. it's all-you, rosemary. "early start" is next for viewers here in the united states. for everyone else, thanks for watching. . ey release medicine fast, for fast pain relief. tylenol® sugar, we're letting you go. what? who's replacing me? splenda naturals? look, she's sweet, she's got natural stevia, no bitter aftertaste and she's calorie-free.
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. breaking overnight. the president's national security advisor is out. mi mike michael plen flynn resigning. live coverage beginning now. welcome to "early start." i'm christine romans. >> i'm john berman. it is 4:00 a.m. in the east. what a night. a stunning turn of events 25 y days